Practice Guide : The great wealth transfer wave is coming

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Here are eight smart ways to surf it

Millennials constitute about a quarter of the U.S. population. While many of them already have significant wealth, they collectively will also be inheriting trillions of dollars from their Baby Boomer parents in the years and decades ahead. For financial advisors’ practices to thrive, we think it’s essential to establish a strong connection to younger generations of investors.

Perhaps the most important first step in making that connection is to not rush to any assumptions about them. There is a misperception that Millennials, because they’re tech savvy, prefer to get their financial guidance from robo-advisor services. A number of surveys disprove that notion. One by Nationwide in 2020, for example, found that 75% of Millennials want to work with advisors to help them mitigate risk and plan for retirement.

While Millennials are a receptive audience for human-delivered financial advice, it’s still important to engage with them on their terms. Following are some guidelines that can help ensure you’re communicating and interacting with Millennials in ways that resonate with them.

1. Be digitally smart

Millennials, perhaps even more than older generations, do their research on Google. To filter into their consciousness, you’ll want to make sure your firm’s website is search engine optimized. Part of that optimization means including lots of the keywords related to searches Millennials might do when they’re looking for the best financial advisor in their town, help with retirement planning, tips for minimizing student debt, or strategies for handling volatile stock markets.

You’ll want to make sure none of your client communications – everything from newsletters to client statements – are entirely paper-based. While you’ll need to have a robust website that enables clients to easily obtain educational and account information, and conduct other self-service options, you’ll also want to make sure many services are mobile-device friendly or even available through an app. Millennials are more likely to transact business and consume information on their smartphones rather than a laptop or desktop computer.

2. Engage regularly on social media

It’s not enough to simply plant a flag on the ground of social media by setting up accounts for your firm on sites like Facebook or Twitter. Being active on these sites, especially on ones Millennials frequently use like Instagram, is vital. Beyond delivering the economic and market updates that clients count on you for, show your firm’s fun side. Photos of parties you had among your office staff to recognize great client service or pictures of volunteer work that you and the team did in the community will demonstrate a firm culture and values that could appeal to prospective Millennial clients.

3. Serve their needs

Millennials often have a different financial profile than older generations did. They got their education at a time when college was much more expensive. Many have sizeable student debt. Even though the government has taken steps to relieve some of that debt, this generation still needs advice on how to not let their debt short-circuit their longer-term savings needs like retirement. Millennials are also getting married, having children, and buying houses at later ages. Financial advisors need to offer educational and planning resources that address these different life and financial circumstances.

Educating Millennials on key financial topics is critical. A study by the National Endowment for Financial Education found that only 24% of Millennials have basic financial literacy. To keep and maintain their attention with educational resources, the content must be bite-sized and dynamic—like videos, polls and infographics—and whenever possible interactive with content like quizzes that invites them to engage.

4. Empathize with their concerns

Environmental issues are a top concern for Millennials. You can address this priority by talking to them about ESG and impact-oriented investments. You can also demonstrate that issues like sustainability are important to you by the way your practice is managed. Once again, minimizing paper in your office and offering more digital tools for client engagement will help demonstrate that commitment.

5. Get creative with your business and pricing models

Younger generations might not have accumulated enough assets yet to satisfy any minimum account size requirements your firm may normally have. Similarly, they may not yet be able to afford to pay for financial guidance in the form of a percentage of the assets they invest with you. Getting creative with your business models, like offering younger clients subscription-based pricing or discounts tied to their commitment to make regular investments, may help you gain a foothold with clients that may very soon have substantial assets to invest.

6. Host fun interactive events

Millennials also famously prefer experiences over material goods. You may be used to offering seminars to clients and prospects in hotel function rooms or at local restaurants. Expand your repertoire by perhaps scheduling events at local brewpubs, paintball or laser-tag facilities, or locations where an expert — a chef, a painter, a sailing crew or the like – can enable participants to acquire a new skill. Even if business is never discussed or mentioned only in a minimal way at the event, as the host or sponsor, you can make a valuable connection to people who might never have attended a traditional financial planning seminar or client appreciation night.

7. Establish a rapport with the younger generations of existing client families

When wealth transfers from one generation to the next, it more often than not leaves the advisor who worked with the patriarch or matriarch of the family. You can help avoid that happening to you by making a connection to the younger generations of the families with whom you’re already working. Ask your existing client what their adult children or grandchildren might need from you and be sure to offer services, like engaging financial education resources, that will establish you can be a trustworthy, valuable partner. When your existing client is okay with it, including the younger generations in discussions about their parents’ estate plan, will reinforce the impression that the opportunity to work with a trusted partner like you is part of the family legacy.

8. Build a diverse team

Advisors who are Gen Xers and Baby Boomers can certainly learn how to communicate effectively with Millennial clients and prospects. But it’s also helpful to have people at your firm who are Millennials themselves and can not only resonate with, but even anticipate, the concerns Millennials have when managing their finances. Having a few Gen Zers on the team, too, given that the oldest of them are already 25, will help keep your firm ready to understand and serve the sensibilities of younger generations of clients.

The views expressed represent the opinion of Frontier Asset Management. The views are subject to change and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. This material is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. Stated information is derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources that have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness. While Frontier Asset Management believes the information to be accurate and reliable, we do not claim or have responsibility for its completeness, accuracy, or reliability. The use of such sources does not constitute an endorsement. Frontier does not have an affiliation with any author, company or security noted within. Statements of future expectations, estimates, projections, and other forward-looking statements are based on available information and the Frontier Asset Management’s view as of the time of these statements. Accordingly, such statements are inherently speculative as they are based on assumptions that may involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance or events may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential loss of principal. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Before investing consider the investment objectives, fees and expenses.

Frontier Asset Management is a Registered Investment Adviser. The firm’s ADV Brochure and Form CRS are available at no charge by request at info@frontierasset.com or 307.673.5675 and are available on our website www.frontierasset.com. They include important disclosures and should be read carefully.

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